A Guide to Britain, for Americans.

It’s funny


You will find British people very polite. Here are some of our quaint phrases; if you learn them before visiting Britain, you will be able to understand us much better, and soon will be talking “like a native”!

Phrase – Meaning
Efforf – Would you like to join me?
Bleadenyanx – I’m so glad you’ve come to visit our country!
Shaddi – Please repeat that
Getstaft – Won’t you sit here a minute?

More on Sexism

This time it seems to center around the use of the English language (which does not have a gender neutral pronoun).

Is it possible to write gender-neutral (as opposed to say balanced) text and still entertain?

Yes. But if the audience is spending more time counting the number of times you used he and she rather than actually reading the book, then you haven’t a chance.

I write based on personal experience. There are no women in my gaming group and most of the guys do not choose to play female characters. When writing I do mix the pronouns but that’s more for readability rather than anything else. Referring to two male characters as “he” gets confusing, as would referring to two female characters as “she”. Which one do we mean? Bish, bosh, change one of them and the readability increases.

It still won’t be good enough for the people counting pronouns.

What other cultures can we suppress?

A disturbing development:

The fashion chain Zara has withdrawn a handbag from its stores after a customer pointed out that the design featured swastikas.


As well as being the Nazi symbol, the swastika is also a religious symbol for Hindus and Buddhists.

What disturbs me about this is that if the Nazis had adopted, say, the Crucifix or, perhaps, the Great Seal, would there be such a hubbub.

Yes, they were scumbags but does this mean we have to throw out Hindu and Buddhist culture? What does this mean for the Black Leather Trenchcoat? Does Lightning McQueen sport the lightning symbol on his bodywork because he is paying homage to the SS (Schutzstaffel)?

There’s one thing in refusing to glorify or edify the wrongdoers of the past. That’s not what the handbag makers were doing. But this insistence on removing everything that might possibly offend anyone is only going to lead us to Equilibrium.

Yes. That’s a bad thing. (it wasn’t all about cool guys fighting with guns and swords….no really….)

He said, do you speaka my language? (Foreign RPGs)

I’ve bought a few foreign language games in the past – a few French games (Humanydyne, Vermine, In Nomine Satanis, Te Deum Pour Un Massacre, Apocrypha) , a couple of German games (Das Schwarze Auge, Space Gothic) and my friend Paul gifted me with a copy of Ars Magica in Russian a few years ago.

Some of the games you get from other countries are very much foreign language versions of games we already have. They have their own direct translations as well as native versions of hackneyed fantasy and other tropes. But they have some gems, like some of the games listed above. Even before you start translating the games, they stand out (worthy of note is that someone is working on an English translation of HumanyDyne.)

I hear good things from Spain (but haven’t bought any because I don’t know any Spanish, while I can read French and German).

Anyone else ventured to other cultures for good RPGs?

I haven’t eaten anything since later this afternoon.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Time Killers game – mostly about whether or not there is room for ANOTHER time travel game out there.

One of the best time travel games I’ve ever read was Continuum (1999) which really went to town on background and gave special focus to making sure you fulfill your own future. Some of the things in the game (spanners, frag) have silly names and I dislike the “secret” as well. But, nonetheless, it has a lot of things going for it.

So, here’s the framework for Time Killers.

Every player has a character, pregens are provided but there’ll also be rules for making your own.

Each player must have a Timepiece, a pen and paper representation of  an electronic diary, which records their past and future. Everything “temporal” that happens in a game session should be recorded in their timepiece.

When doing something that is in your Future, you should skip a random number of pages ahead in the Timepiece and write in a reminder. As you start to fill your diary with events from your Present (this making up your Past), you will eventually come across events you have placed into your Future. Now is the time to resolve them.

Paradoxes are bad but that’s where the time killers come in. In the example of the famous grandfather paradox, the Time Killers are there to restore normal working to the timeline. If a time traveller goes back in time to kill his grandfather, noting that if he succeeds, he will never be born and will never have been able to go back in time because he never existed, the correct flow of time will be that he does go back and he does attempt the murder, but for whatever reason he will fail (either by being prevented in committing the murder or by the Time Killer organisation planting whatever is necessary to keep the timeline straight, up to and including replacing the dead grandfather with a simulacrum or technological fertilisation of the time travellers grandmother. Time Killers are not exempt from these paradoxes but at least are more knowledgeable than most.
The Time Killers are one of many “timeline guardian” organisations. There are others. And no-one is really sure of what is the “proper” timeline. However, what distinguishes the the legitimacy of some from others is the ability of the organisation to detect changes in Causality. These manifest as “vibrations” in spacetime and indicate that a paradox has occurred. As paradox happens instantly and would cause spacetime to unravel, it is important to get the Time Killers out into the field  before the unravelling occurs. This means there’s very little time to prepare and every single time it happens, the fate of the universe is on their shoulders.

That’s enough stream-of-consciousness for one morning.
[The title of this post comes from the 2004 film, Primer.]

An update and also “Under Development”

These are the games I’m currently working on – as in trying to spend an hour every night writing something, anything. Some nights are more productive than others. I’m only hampered my Black Macbook being pinched by my partner because she has more important stuff to do but hopefully before the end of September that will be resolved when I take delivery of a brand spanking new 17″ MacBook Pro.

It’s a much better machine for working on at night anyway because it’s got the whole glowing keyboard thing which means I can tap away at night without the light on.
My only distraction so far really (apart from her indoors) is Battlefield 2142 which is proving to be a lot of fun and I’m slowly but surely getting better at playing it as I get used to the health dispensers and the ammo dispensers. I need to practise more before playing against real humans and also need to get learning the maps! I’ll also be able to play it on my new laptop which will be a real relief considering the discomfort in my back after hunching over an iMac while perched on a stool with my head cocked to one side due to the sloping roof in the little side room.
Without further discussion, here’s what I’m working on.

“6” – previously named CONTROL, “6” is a modern espionage game framework. The initial background is Cold War era, British Secret Service (MI6) with a setting more familiar to readers of Le Carre or Deighton than Fleming. Release planned before December 2007.
“Solar Racer” – a sports-focused sci-fi RPG set in and around the dangerous sports of zero- and microgravity vacuum racing. Complete background for the world post 2200 and guidelines for pimping your racer. Steals a lot from an earlier game I wrote but never finished called “Airtight”. Maybe it’ll see release at some point as a supplement for ‘Racer. Release Spring 2008
“Time Killers” – a series of one-off adventures. Each scenario includes rules, pre-generated characters, setting and scenario. Basic premise is the players are time-travellers tasked with “fixing” some bloopers in time. Each scenario should take 2-4 hours which is perfect for those of us who find ourselves with a minimum of prep time or have a free slot at a convention.  Release of first scenario, December 2007.